Press releases

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert E. Lighthizer, Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) and several of his Senate colleagues warned that a proposed tariff on Chinese barite would devastate Louisiana’s energy production industry and threaten jobs.  Sens. Kennedy, Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-La.) Shelley Moore Capito (R-W. Va.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Doug Jones (D-Ala.) asked Ambassador Lighthizer to leave barite off any tariff list. 

Barite is a mineral that is used by the oil and gas industry to reduce the likelihood of blowouts during the drilling of wells in the Gulf of Mexico.   The U.S. imports 69% of the barite it uses from China. 

“Under President Trump’s leadership, we have seen a massive boom in our energy production in the United States,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “However, a tariff on barite could inadvertently cripple our oil and gas industry.  Less exploration and production in the Gulf of Mexico would mean fewer jobs.  That wouldn’t be good for anyone, especially Louisiana.”


September 17, 2018


Ambassador Robert E. Lighthizer

U.S. Trade Representative

Office of the United States Trade Representative

600 17th Street, NW

Washington, DC 20006


Dear Ambassador Lighthizer:


It has been brought to our attention by American energy producers that your office is considering placing tariffs on several vital safety components to American energy production currently imported from China: unground barite, ground barite, and barium sulfate.  We write to urge you to remove barite from the list of proposed tariffs because it is critical to our nation’s energy security.

Barite is a naturally occurring, heavy mineral that is used in drilling fluids to counteract the extreme pressures of oil and gas formations below the earth.  Drilling fluids are vital to the safe drilling of oil and gas wells because they reduce the likelihood of well “blowouts”.  There is no economical existing alternative or substitute for barite in the drilling process and it is designated a “critical mineral” by the Secretary of the Interior.

The U.S. produces nearly 330,000 tons of barite annually yet consumes nearly 2.4 million tons.  U.S. barite mines are substantially depleted and inadequate to support American energy production.  U.S. oil and gas service companies have undertaken extensive exploration efforts to locate new reserves in the U.S. over the years with little success.  Our country imports 2 million tons of barite annually and of that, approximately half comes from China.

A barite tariff will not help to change China’s unfair trade practices. In fact, it will effectively shift the balance of trade even more in China’s favor because American energy producers will have no choice but to continue importing Chinese barite due to the lack of alternate quality sources domestically or internationally. 

This will raise the cost of domestic energy production.  Such increased costs will be passed to the U.S. consumer and make our energy exports less price competitive in energy export markets.  In addition, because domestic barite mining is limited to mines in Nevada, oil and gas exploration companies in the Gulf of Mexico, Appalachia, and other areas outside the American West will disproportionately bear the cost of a barite tariff.

We are grateful for your consideration.  Thank you for your service to America.






John Kennedy

United States Senator



Bill Cassidy, M.D.

United States Senator



Shelley Moore Capito

United States Senator



Joe Manchin III

United States Senator



Doug Jones

United States Senator